In Their Own Words: Hall, Lesley, Raskin, Zernitskaya and Snell on the Bike Action Plan


Last week, safe streets advocacy groups Streets for All broadcast a debate with five candidates for Santa Monica City Council. As the debate was held before the filing deadline, the group reached out to all declared candidates, all incumbents and people who expressed some interest in running.

Five candidates attended the forum, Barry Snell, Dan Hall, Ellis Raskin, Ericka Lesley and Natalya Zernitskaya. You can watch the full debate here, and we’ve transcribed each candidate’s answer to the first question below.

Santa Monica Next will give this treatment to other Council debates between now and the November election.

Michael Schneider, Streets for All: Santa Monica has initiated some very progressive plans, such as the Bike Action Plan, which was amended in 2020 to add protected bike lanes. However, due to stops, shortages and budget cuts, the city has fallen behind crucial success. What do you think of the Bike Action Plan and if elected how would you accelerate its implementation? 

Dan Hall: Thanks, Michael. So I, like I said in my intro, I’m fully committed to multimodal streets and ensuring that our Bike Action Plan from 2011 and Bike Action Plan Amendment from 2020 are fully implemented. I am a strong believer in the protected bike lanes that we have. 

You see one here on Colorado, but also the ones that we implemented last year on Ocean Ave and 17th Street. Unlike the incumbents who have pushed to shave the island sizes on our Dutch-style protected intersections and have questioned the efficacy of concrete barriers, I’m fully in support of them. I want to ensure that they meet NACTO standards and best practices, and I also want to make sure that our bike lanes that are being built in the protected manner are going to be wide enough to accommodate cargo bikes and increase throughput that we know will need in the future.  

I would be fully supportive of investing in our mobility staff to ensure that the Bike Action Plan is implemented as appropriate. Thank you.

Ericka Lesley: I believe in our bike plan, but I’d also like to reinforce it with rumble strips. We have a lot of distracted drivers here in Santa Monica. They have a lot of EVs, and people I see going along the lanes with looking at their phones. I think that they need to be reinforced where they’re already in place, and then expand out in places and in ways that we’re also being sensitive to the businesses that are also along those lanes, so that they can still practice their businesses.

Ellis Raskin: First and foremost it needs to be a budget priority. We saw last night at the budget discussion that we’re going to have to really fight for the full budget implementation for projects like this. So, we need to keep our eye on the ball with respect to budgeting. But more so than that, it’s really creating a culture of not being antithetical towards common sense pedestrian and bicycle protections, like we already have laid out in our Bike Action Plan, so that they can move forward. 

To Dan’s point, which I think hit the nail on the head: we’ve seen a culture develop recently where folks in our city government really have not embraced the culture of building cities that are friendly towards bicyclists, cities that are friendly towards pedestrians. 

You know, Michael, you mentioned earlier in your introduction, the number of serious injuries along east Pico. For example, where I live…and actually where Natalia lives…it is right around the corner from Pico and Stewart, where we’ve got some really serious accidents. We need folks to bring this  to the forefront of public consciousness and the public dialog in politics. 

Natalya Zernitskaya:I am fully in support of our Bike Action Plan, and I would love to be able to get it fully implemented as soon as possible. 

As some of my colleagues have mentioned, the budget is a big issue and a big challenge in getting it fully implemented. We need the staffing. We need the funding for the actual materials. We need a bunch of things. 

I agree with Ellis that we need to make sure it is a budget priority. At the same time, I think that we need to leverage our relationships that we have with our state and federal legislators. 

Santa Monica has a really strong working relationship with Congressman Ted Lieu, and he’s been very good at getting funding for projects in his district. So I think that the more we use those relationships to get other outside sources of funding, the faster we’ll be able to get to full implementation and even a full bike network. 

Barry Snell: I support the Bike Action Plan, as most of my colleagues said. I think that the plan that was instituted in 2017 was a very thoughtful plan and very futuristic. I live in the Pico Neighborhood, which we have on the 17th Street and our Michigan Avenue the first layout of the bike plan, which has been phenomenal. 

It’s changed the 17th Street Station to our College in Santa Monica. The entire street has changed completely. So I would also look at our state and our county to see where funding is available for it. 

I’d also take a look at enforcement and see how we can look at enforcing the laws with respect to drivers, so that those funding would also go towards the bike plan. But I’m a big supporter of it. Thank you.

Damien Newton
Damien Newton
Damien is the executive director of the Southern California Streets Initiative which publishes Santa Monica Next, Streetsblog Los Angeles, Streetsblog San Francisco, Streetsblog California and Longbeachize.

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